Category Archives: Politics

Student Elections at Glasgow University

I remember this time last year very well- the beginning of my fight for Libraries Convener. I was starting my daily (private) routine of crying hysterically in my room whilst punching my pillow at the same time. In public, however, I was all smiles. I soon had people spamming my manifesto and slogans across FaceBook and Twitter, alike. I even put a video of me dressed as Hagrid on YouTube in the hope of winning over a few extra people.

The year before last I was gearing up to help no less than five of my friends campaign to get their chosen position. The stress over whose profile picture I was going to use was intense. I eventually wound up swapping between my friends. On the actual days of the campaign I was out till the end, cold and miserable, flyering and chucking sweets at people just wanting to get to class. Everyone hated me.

In my first year, I was naive, sweet and innocent, with no idea of the kind of social media and campus frenzy student elections caused. I was still minding my own business and heading to class when the first pack of Haribo hit me in the face.

My point it this: whether you are going to be one of the innocent, unaware passer-bys on the day of elections, you will be throwing yourself right into the action by campaigning for one or numerous friends or you will be daring to run for a position yourself the upcoming student elections will affect you in some way. So let me give you the basics of the student bodies and their elections:

The Student Representative Council (SRC)

If you are a student at the University of Glasgow (which I’m assuming all of you reading this are) then you can vote in these elections, and you should. These guys represent the student body to the University and also help cater to many student interests and needs. With the dark days of Chizzy and Stuart Ritchie now past them the SRC have grown from strength to strength in recent years. This year the council, and particularly the sabbatical positions, prove to be hotly contested. And did I mention you can vote online? You don’t even need to leave your bed to have your say.

Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA)

All gym members are eligible to vote in this one. These are the guys that represent student sporting interests to the SRS and do their best to ensure Glasgow University students have the best sporting opportunities possible. Last year positions on council were highly contested, with 7 out of the 12 positions opposed. Will this year be the same? There is already rumoured to be a presidential battle on the cards, automatically making it an interesting year for GUSA elections.

Queen Margaret Union (QMU)

Over the hill at the other Union, the QMU elections will take place. You must be a member of the QMU to vote in the elections. Pissed off about the name change of Cheesy Pop? Vote in someone that will change it back. Last year’s election was a mixed success for the QMU. Although many of the higher up positions were contested, there were some positions left unfilled and the voter turnout was rather disappointing compared to the other student bodies. What will this year have in store for the Queen Margaret Union?

Glasgow University Union

And lastly we have GUU’s Board of Management. You have to be a GUU member to vote in these elections. The Board run all the major events, deals and promotions at the Union so if you are a member you need to make your vote count. The difficult year behind the Union will doubtfully get better over the next so it is critical that a hard-working and innovative Board of Management is elected. Last year GUU elections were largely uncontested with only the PSM positions and Libraries Convener (just my luck) opposed but what will this year bring?

So read manifestos and make your vote count- it is likely one or more of these student bodies will matter a lot to you and your uni lifestyle. If you are a campaigner, try not to feel guilty about harassing people- you are doing it to help friends and ensure student involvement with elections. Lastly, good luck to those choosing to run for a position. As stressful and emotional the next month will be- it is all worth it in the end.*

*Please note that this is from a winner’s perspective. I have no idea how it feels to lose but I imagine it may not feel as worth the tears, money and time spent on campaigning.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Chris Kueh (https://www.flickr.com/photos/chriskueh/)

Vote Obama

When Barack Obama was elected as the President of the United States four years ago it signified the beginning of a new era for American politics: an era of change and of progress.

In the last four years, alone, Obama and the Democrat party have achieved much. They overcame the Republicans’ united opposition to pass an economic stimulus programme, overhauled the US healthcare system, lay down new rules to Wall Street and the banking industry and prevented the US auto industry from collapse. Furthermore, the Democrats overturned a two-decade-old law banning openly gay Americans from serving in the US military.  He also despatched a team of commandos to kill Osama Bin Laden, brought the US war in Iraq to a close and struck a new nuclear arms treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medveder.

But, you may ask, what is he planning for the future? Why is he a better candidate than Mitt Romney?

There are three central issues, in which Obama has proved himself above Romney: foreign policy, the environment and healthcare.

Firstly, he has made it clear that he seeks peaceful negotiations over conflicts. He opposes the near term military strikes on Iran and will only use it as a last resort. He seeks international pressure against Syria rather than repeat the Libyan air power commitment for Syrian opposition. However, Romney appears to have a far more aggressive foreign policy than Obama. He presents a clearer US threat to Iran and has spoken in more permissive terms about Israel’s right to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities, without explicitly approving of such a step. Whilst Obama seeks to avoid conflict as much as possible, Romney is not so inclined as evident by his plan to increase military spending.

The environment has recently become a far more prevalent issue due to Hurricane Sandy. Obama remains the only candidate with any viable environmental policies having already made much progress in that area. He has already achieved the first- ever regulations on heat –trapping gases blamed for Global Warming and on toxic mercury pollution from power plants. He has spent heavily on green energy, as he has recognised that this is a pressing issue. Meanwhile, Romney, in his ignorance, claims green power is yet to become viable and that the causes of climate change are unknown.

Lastly is the issue of healthcare. Obama achieved a landmark overhaul finally putting the USA on a path to universal coverage. Under the new law, insurers will be banned from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illness, tax credits will subsidise premiums, people without work-based insurance will have access to new markets, small businesses will get help for offering insurance and Medicaid will expand. Obama has promised to continue on this path to universal healthcare as long as he is in power. However, Romney has promised to do his utmost to work for the repeal of the law. He would destroy the incredible progress that has been made for healthcare in America.

Romney with his aggressive foreign policy, ignorance of environmental issues and his lack of support for universal healthcare is seeking to drag the USA back to the past, to eliminate the progress that has been made in the last four years. Obama, on the other hand, is looking to continue with the work he and the Democrats have been doing. He looks to solve the international issues by peaceful means rather than the use of force, he is looking for an active solution to the issues of the environment and he wants to benefit the entire nation by creating a universal healthcare system. Obama is looking to the future whilst Romney is stubbornly set in the past. Obama is, therefore, not simply the best, but the only candidate for the job.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Chris Coleman (https://www.flickr.com/photos/iceman9294/)

Election Chat Overload

Did you recently spend two weeks on campus fighting your way through crowds of campaigners, thrusting leaflets at you in their colourful handmade t-shirts? Have you had to sprint past the GUU/ QMU/ gym/ library headphones in, avoiding all eye contact with everyone? Or have you simply enjoyed the ridiculous amount of free food being handed out?

You have just experienced springtime elections at Glasgow University- student democracy at its finest.

I do apologise to those I have harassed, bullied, yelled ‘vote for…’ at but election time does become pretty intense. Particularly this year, with the presidential position for each of the four student bodies being contested. Congratulations to David Lockhart of the GUU, Colum Fraser of the QMU, Chris Millar of GUSA and James Harrison of the SRC for being successful in their presidential campaigns.

But elections are absolutely nothing without some element of controversy, and although the QMU and GUU elections passed by with relatively few issues, controversy arrived in the form of the SRC presidential candidate Chizzy and of the disenfranchisement of the Art School students from the GUSA elections.

After the Stuart Ritchie ordeal this year, the SRC have struggled to maintain credibility. So perhaps it was inevitable that someone like Chizzy would pop up on Facebook with a manifesto promising to rebuild the John McIntyre building entirely out of glass in order to make the SRC more ‘transparent’ and to use carrier owls instead of MyCampus. But to actually see his name on the ballot list on voting day and to be greeted by an army of his campaigners outside the library- that was a shock.

To put it in perspective, the SRC president is a paid position.  Furthermore, they have to represent the entire student body, therefore what does it say about the SRC if they have a candidate running on the basis of a joke manifesto? Chizzy, however, was unsuccessful, so unfortunately we will not be adding carrier owls to our University.

The disenfranchisement of the GSA students from the GUSA elections was a further source of controversy in the student election process. This added to the recent conflict between the Art School students and GUSA resulting from a cap being placed on the number of the former being allowed to join the gym. Then on election day many Art School students were turned away from the Stevenson building and told they were not allowed to vote, despite being active members of the gym and GUSA clubs.

This decision was made because of a clause found recently in the GUSA constitution, which stated:

“Membership shall apply to all those registered students of the University of Glasgow who have paid their subscription to the Sports and Recreation Service.”

It all came down to whether they had a University of Glasgow matriculation card- those who did not were not allowed to vote. However, in previous years all Art School students who were members of the gym were eligible to vote leading to the question of why did they decide to enforce this rule this year?

However, with Chris Millar’s manifesto having stated that he was going to stand up for art school students, most GSA students are confident that in the following year, Millar will strive to solve many of the issues that have recently been affecting GSA students and their participation in GUSA.  Josh Murphy, art school student and member of the GUSWPC commented:

“As an active member of GUSA I was obviously disappointed in the way that the issue of art school eligibility was handled prior to the elections, however what’s done is done and I am really looking forward to seeing what the new council will offer in the face of some difficult decisions that will be coming their way. I am confident they have the skills required to tackle the issue of art school students’ membership effectively in the coming months.”

With all the elections finally over, life on campus has begun to settle down again. Each of the four student bodies are set to tackle another year at Glasgow University.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Keith Bacongo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/kitoy/)

We Believe in Independence

It has now been over 300 years since Scotland was absorbed into the United Kingdom, over ten years since Scotland was once again allowed its own parliament and just over a couple of weeks since Alex Salmond reiterated that there would be a referendum taking place, before the elections of 2016, asking the Scottish people to vote for or against independence for Scotland.

But why the need for Scottish independence?

Isn’t the Union fine the way it is?

The simple answer is no. In the last general election Scotland only voted in one Conservative Member of Parliament, yet Conservative are now the most powerful party in Westminster. Not only does this result in a serious lack of representation for Scotland in Westminster but it also conveys the lack of Scottish power within the Union.

Some may counter this apparent lack of Scottish influence by pointing to the devolution process of the last decade or so. Scotland has now been awarded its own parliament and possibly holds the most power it has had as a nation in the last 300 years. However, this merely strengthens the case for independence. For Scotland may be more democratic but is still severely restricted in its powers. For example, it is still Westminster which collects the Scottish taxpayers’ money and then recycles some of it back to the Scottish parliament to be spent on services in Scotland.

Devolution was a step in the right direction but it is not independence. It was merely a way for Westminster to avoid the issue at the time and to quell Scottish discontent. It is, however, not enough.

Westminster further has the power to dissolve the Scottish parliament at any time. This means we are at constant risk of losing what little progress we have managed to make in the last three centuries. Therefore, independence is not only a way to increase our power as a nation but also a way to fully protect what we have already worked so hard to obtain.

A bigger question than the why is the how of independence. Does Scotland really have the resources to sustain itself as an independent nation?

An argument that is always leapt to is that of Scotland’s oil. However, it is an effective one. The McCrone Report of 1974 declared that Scotland’s revenue of oil would have given it one of the strongest currencies in Europe if it was ever to gain independence. This was kept quiet by the Labour government and the details were not released until the SNP obtained it in 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act of 2000.

Now, it is doubtful that the oil could support the nation alone. However, it is a start. And were Scotland given the chance to develop its natural resources and other industries, such as renewable energy, it could stand a very good chance as a small, independent nation.

The fact is Scotland deserves the chance to take control of its politics and economy; the chance to prove itself as an independent country; the chance to be recognised as a separate nation in Europe and the rest of the world.

It is no longer an issue of blood stained kilts and saltires, nor of tyrant English kings taking away our freedom. It is now a case of what is best for our nation now and in the future. This journalist puts forward that independence would give Scotland the opportunity to control its own economy and resources, and allow Scottish people to be represented properly in government.

The SNP, the party that the Scottish people voted into the Scottish parliament this year, have promised that they will be fully campaigning for independence at the future referendum. And with the opinion polls showing an increase in support for independence from the public, who knows where Scotland will be five years from now. Perhaps for the first time in many centuries, Scotland will be in control of its own destiny.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Tom Parnell (https://www.flickr.com/photos/itmpa/)